Douglas R. Dowie

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Douglas R. Dowie was the general manager of Fleishman-Hillard's (F-H) Los Angeles office until January 2005.

In late 2003, F-H's Los Angeles office was embroiled in controversy over the firm's $3 million PR contract with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).

The controversy initially centered on accusations involving Dowie, his relationship with city officials and whether pro bono work and political donations by F-H led to it winning contracts. However it later evolved into accusations - later documented in an audit by the City Controller - that the DWP have been substantially overbilled.

In January 2005 Associated Press reported that Dowie and two other staff who handled the DWP account, were no longer working for the company. F-H regional president Richard Kline told AP "We're making no accusations. No individuals have been accused of wrongdoing by the legal authorities, outside of the civil suit," he said. Dowie's lawyer said his client had not been informed on the reasons for his removal. [1]

In August 2005 Dowie's attorney, Tom Holliday of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, filed a motion to allow the results of a lie detector test undertaken by Dowie to be admitted in his trial. According to the motion Dowie took and passed a privately administered test on January 21. According to court records two of the questions put to Dowie were "At the time those DWP bills were submitted, did you know any of them were fraudulent?" and, "When those bills were submitted, were you aware any of them were fraudulent?". [2]

"We believe that on the facts of this case and the nature of the indictment and the circumstances surrounding the events of this case, in this specific case, the admission of the polygraph results is not only appropriate, but fair, and we look forward to a hearing in front of (U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess) on this issue in September," Holliday told the L.A. Daily. The prosecution has yet to file a response. [3]

In October 2005 U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess ruled that Dowie's polygraph test results would only be admissable if he testified at his trial. "His testimony will then be subject to scrutiny under the same standard as any of the other witnesses in this case," Feess wrote. [4]

Dowie lost his bid to have F-H cover his legal costs for his case. In January 2006, U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess granted an application Fleishman-Hillard that Dowie to dismiss Dowie's civil lawsuit seeking coverage of his legal costs. However, Feess stated that Dowie could re-instate the suit if he was acquitted of the charges against him. [5]

Dowie's Wrongful Dismissal Suit Against F-H

In late March 2005 Associated Press reported that Dowie had filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against F-H claiming that he had been made a scapegoat in the overbilling controversy. [6]

Dowie's suit states that he was dismissed even though F-H's own investigation found that he did not engage in misconduct. "When it got real hot politically, Fleishman, instead of standing by him and protecting him, they just threw him to the wolves," Dowie's attorney, Michael Faber, told Associated Press. [7] Dowie, who earned an annual salary of $370,000, is seeking lost wages and other damages.

In February 2006 PR Week reported that Dowie amended his claim to include allegations that bonuses issued to Fleishman employees represented "reimbursements for campaign contributions" in violation of California laws. [8]

Dowie's attorney, Michael Faber, told PR Week that in a February 1 deposition Fleishman co-chairman William Anderson agreed that the firm's senior management "did not determine that Dowie himself had engaged in wrongdoing" or was "personally aware of wrongdoing by others."

Fleishman's LA-based regional president and senior partner Richard Kline rejected Dowie's implication that staff reimbursements were for political contributions. "No one in senior management at Fleishman approved or had any knowledge of any reimbursements for political contributions. [There] is absolutely no truth to Dowie's allegations," Kline told PR Week. [9]

In August 2006 U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow wrote in court papers that "no reasonable jury could conclude that Fleishman-Hillard lacked good cause to terminate" Dowie. [10]

However, In June 2007 a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge thre a legal lifeline to Dowie and John Stodder. The court granted the two bail while their appeal is before the courts, on the grounds that they presented little risk of fleeing. In its decision, the court wrote that their "appeal raises a 'substantial question' of law or fact" that could result in the earlier court decision being overturned, a re-trial ordered or a non-custodial sentence imposed. [11]

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